GRE Subject Test: Psychology : Neurophysiological Factors

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Neurophysiological Factors

When Jeanie was a child she experienced intense periods of stress and trauma. As an adult, she struggles with severe depression. Despite using multiple prescription anti-depressant medications, Jeanie does not find any one of them to be significantly effective. Which of the following best describes what has happened to Jeanie's brain?

Possible Answers:

Jeanie's brain is not receptive to the type of neurotransmitter being delivered by the anti-depressant. Jeanie needs an anti-depressant that delivers a different combination of neurotransmitters than the ones she has already tried. 

None of these

Jeanie's brain is overproducing the neurotransmitters that the anti-depressant is delivering. Instead of decreasing Jeanie's depression, it is intensifying it by producing more of what she already has. 

The early developmental stress Jeanie experienced caused the neural connections in her hippocampus to stunt growth, resulting in a smaller than average hippocampus. Antidepressants are ineffective initially because Jeanie's brain needs more neurogenisis in her hippocampus to assist with her mood. 

The early childhood stress Jeanie experienced caused her limbic system to rewire it's route through her brain. Therefore, the anti-depressants are effecting a part of her brain that she does not currently have access to and becoming ineffective. 

Correct answer:

The early developmental stress Jeanie experienced caused the neural connections in her hippocampus to stunt growth, resulting in a smaller than average hippocampus. Antidepressants are ineffective initially because Jeanie's brain needs more neurogenisis in her hippocampus to assist with her mood. 

Explanation:

Many women with depression possess an underdeveloped hippocampus—a key component in mood stabilization. Early stress can cause the development of the hippocampus to halt; therefore, the hippocampus is unable to do its job proficiently. Over time, antidepressants may assist with neurogenesis and improve Jeanie's depression but the effects will not be felt as quickly as they might be in someone with an average sized hippocampus.

Example Question #2 : Neurophysiological Factors

The presence of excessive dopamine receptors within the limbic system has been proposed to contribute to positive symptoms of which psychological disorder?

Possible Answers:

Psychosis 

Tourette's Syndrom

Schizophrenia 

Bipolar Disorder

Parkinson's Disorder 

Correct answer:

Schizophrenia 

Explanation:

Medical researchers have long such proposed that excessive dopamine in the limbic system--leading to hyperactive, damaged connections between speech and language comprehension as well as hyperactive abnormalities of prefrontal attention--can contribute to positive symptoms of schizophrenia. 

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